Stir-Fried Shiitake Mushrooms, Tofu and Asparagus

Du you like stir-fry :Shiitake mushroom stems are too hard to include in this stir-fry, but rather than discard them, I simmer them to make a light broth for the glaze. Serve this pretty stir-fry with rice or noodles.

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Recipes for Health
Each week this series will present recipes around a particular type of produce or a pantry item. This is food that is vibrant and light, full of nutrients but by no means ascetic, fun to cook and a pleasure to eat.

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Recipes for Health: Puree of Mushroom Soup (December 17, 2009) 1/2 pound fresh shiitake mushrooms

Salt to taste

1 pound asparagus, woody ends snapped off, cut on the diagonal in 2-inch lengths

2 tablespoons canola or peanut oil

3/4 pound tofu, cut in 1/2 -x 3/4-x 1/4 inch dominoes

Low-sodium soy sauce to taste

2 tablespoons finely minced garlic

2 tablespoons finely minced ginger

1 tablespoon dry or amontillado sherry

1/4 teaspoon sesame oil

1 teaspoon cornstarch

1. Stem the mushrooms, and quarter the caps. Place the stems in a saucepan, and add 2 1/2 cups water and salt to taste. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes. Strain, discard the mushroom stems and return the broth to the heat. Bring back to a boil. Add the asparagus, and blanch for one to two minutes, just until bright. It should still be crunchy. Transfer to a bowl of cold water, then drain. Retain the broth.

2. In a small bowl or measuring cup, stir together 1 tablespoon soy sauce, the sherry, sesame oil and 1/4 cup of the broth. In a separate bowl or measuring cup, stir together 1/2 cup of the broth and the cornstarch.

3. Heat a large, heavy skillet or wok over high heat. Add 1 tablespoon of the oil, and when the oil is hot but not smoking, add the tofu. Stir-fry until lightly colored, two to three minutes. Add soy sauce to taste, toss together for about 30 seconds, and transfer to a bowl or plate. Set aside.

4. Add mushrooms to the pan, and stir-fry three to four minutes, until just tender and moist. Add the remaining tablespoon of oil, and stir in the garlic, ginger and asparagus. Stir-fry for 30 seconds. Add the tofu and soy sauce mixture, and stir-fry for two to three minutes, until the asparagus is just tender and the mixture is fragrant. Stir the cornstarch mixture again, and add to the pan. Stir just until the tofu and vegetables are glazed, and serve immediately with rice or noodles.

Yield: Serves four.

Advance preparation: This is a last-minute stir-fry, but you can make the mushroom stem broth and blanch the asparagus several hours ahead. Everything can be prepared before you begin to cook.

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